Skip to main content

New Age Food: Self Regulating GMOs

By Theodora Filis

In the US, Genetically Modified Organisims (GMOs) fall under regulatory jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Environmental Protection Association (EPA). Now, more than ever, environmentalists are complaining that policies and regulations are insufficient and poorly organized. Many worry corporate influence over policy has led to a dangerous level of "self-regulation" by biotech companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Scotts.

Mandatory labeling of GMOs and biotech companies allowed to self-regulate are causing heated debates. Debates that have caused a significant increase in the amount of valuable information regarding GMOs, but has not helped to stop the planting or the “gene-flow” of GMO seeds world-wide.

Gene-flow, the process by which a gene will move through wind-blown pollen and work its way into non-modified varieties, has already been well-established for GMO corn, GMO alfalfa, and other modified crops.

Already on the verge of regulatory collapse, the USDA “surprised” everyone last week with a press release titled: "USDA Responds to Regulation Requests Regarding Kentucky Bluegrass," the USDA announced their decision to deregulate a "Roundup Ready" strain of Kentucky bluegrass. GMO Kentucky Bluegrass seed was engineered to withstand glyphosate, Monsanto's widely used herbicide, known as Roundup. Allowing, Scotts Miracle Gro, the maker of this novel grass seed, to plant and sell without restrictions.

Even more surprising than the press release was a letter to Scotts Miracle-Gro, by USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsak, as an addendum to the agency's response to Scott's GMO bluegrass petition. In Vilsack's letter, dated July 1, he acknowledges concerns that GMO bluegrass will contaminate non-GMO bluegrass, and acknowledges that the Roundup Ready gene will move through wind-blown pollen and work its way into non-GMO varieties.

“The USDA recognizes that if this GE variety were to be commercially released, producers wishing to grow non-GE Kentucky bluegrass will likely have concerns related to gene flow between the GE variety and non-GE Kentucky bluegrass. Exporters of Kentucky bluegrass seed, growers of non-GE Kentucky bluegrass seed, and those involved in the use of non-GE Kentucky bluegrass in pastures will likely have concerns about the loss of their ability to meet contractual obligations.” said Vilsack

GMO Kentucky bluegrass has already shown up in organic cow pastures and beef. Organic farmers, due to gene-flow, now face the risk of their animals eating from fields of GMO crops – jeopardizing their organic status.

The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requires that the USDA conduct an environmental impact study for all the crops it deregulates. But to deregulate a crop, the agency has to regulate it first.

So, how did the USDA get away with deregulating GMO bluegrass, without having to regulate it first?

I think USDA used, what is referred to as a “quick kick” in American football. GMO Crops that must be regulated fall under "regulatory status" – "plant pest" status and "noxious weed" status. The USDA conveniently placed GMO bluegrass into neither of those categories, but instead placed bluegrass under the broad variety of “novel crops” that do not need to be regulated before deregulating.

Huh? Confused? Good, then it worked. Touchdown for the biotech industry!

Popular posts from this blog

Plastic Pollutes Every Waterway, Sea and Ocean In The World

By Theodora Filis

When we damage our water systems, we're not only putting marine life at risk, we're also putting human life and resources in peril.

Our planet currently has six plastic islands made of trapped garbage. The damage to sea life by these plastic death traps can only be imagined, but scientists are now investigating the long-term impacts of toxic pollutants absorbed, transported, and consumed by fish and other marine life, including the potential effects on human health. 

Plastic that now pollutes our oceans and waterways is having
a severe impact on our environment and our economy. 
Seabirds, whales, sea turtles and other marine life are eating
marine plastic pollution and dying from choking, intestinal
blockage and starvation. 

Scientists previously thought that only actual plastic floating in the ocean could harm marine animals. But, new research proves there are additional unseen dangers being created by the plastic we discard daily. Initially it was thought that larg…

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later – House Judiciary Committee Decides The Fate Of Online Piracy

By Theodora Filis

The US House Judiciary Committee is now discussing an anti-online piracy bill that will allow independent parties to cut off websites accused of posting copyrighted material. Called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the bill is designed to get around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Committee Chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Currently, under the DMCA, a copyright holder can request a website remove material he or she owns. If the website refuses, the matter can go to court.
Under SOPA, which will go before the House Judiciary Committee on November 16, 2011:
      o Search engines can be required to block accused websites from results.

      o Internet service providers can be required to block accused websites from their customers.

      o Payment companies don't need a request from a copyright holder to block a website. Instead, they can do so on their own if they suspect a website may be posting copyrighted work without permission.

SOPA allows the third pa…

Patty Ameno's “Mad, Junkyard Dog Mentality” Is Barking Up The Right Tree and Getting Results

By Theodora Filis
Patty Ameno has been a steadfast and solitary solider, for over 25 years, in the battle to set to rights the horrific, self fulfilling acts of the Nuclear Industry. Ameno is well known for her environmental activism and for spearheading a 14-year lawsuit with Attorney Fred Baron, for wrongful death, personal injury and property damage from the operations of two former nuclear fuel plants in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. The owners of the plants, Babcock & Wilcox and the Atlantic Richfield Co. settled with over 300 plaintiffs for more than $80 million in 2009. Ameno has received honors and recognition from the State of Pennsylvania, US Senate, and The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP).

Most recently, Patty was the focus of an article written by John Emshwiller, Wall Street Journal, titled: Waste Land: One Town's Atomic Legacy: A $500 Million Cleanup:

Patty Ameno's One-Woman Nuclear Crusade“She has been praised as a community protector and criticized …